Starbucks raises price for caffeine fix

By Emily Sokolik

Brother, can you spare a dime? Or how about a nickel? That’s what you’ll need to cover the latest price increase at Starbucks Coffee.

Beginning last Tuesday, the popular chain raised the price of lattes, cappuccinos, drip coffee and other drinks by five cents for the first time in two years. Bottled drink prices will not be affected.

Carrie Cawdrey, Starbucks marketing manager for the Midwest region, said prices were increased throughout the United States and Canada to offset rising costs.

“Starbucks regularly evaluates our business costs and has determined that a price increase is appropriate in our current environment of rising energy, fuel and supply chain costs,” she said.

Prices have remained unchanged since October 2004 when they were raised by an average of 11 cents, Cawdrey said.

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In addition, 23 out of 27 varieties of coffee beans will increase by 50 cents per pound for the first time since 1998, she said.

Despite the price jolts, Starbucks has reported strong sales, Cawdrey said.

Amy Jordan, junior in LAS, said an extra nickel will not keep her away from the caramel macchiato, her favorite Starbucks drink.

“I think people know that Starbucks is generally going to be a bit more expensive,” she said. “Five cents isn’t really that much more.”

Local coffee shop competitors are not expecting the Starbucks price boost to have much of an effect on their business.

“I think we have better coffee,” said Jennifer Iversen, manager for the Espresso Royale located at 602 E. Daniel.

Espresso Royale’s six Champaign and Urbana locations have only heightened in popularity since the arrival of Starbucks to the area last year, Iversen said.

She added that prices at Espresso have not been raised for more than a year and was not the result of a coffee increase, but rather an increase in the price of milk.

While many Starbucks customers are forgiving of the latest increase, it did not sit well with Heidi Abbott, sophomore in Business.

“If (the drinks) were cheaper I would understand an increase,” she said. “I will keep going to Starbucks simply because they are convenient when I am at work. But I will go to Espresso Royale more often than before.”

Aside from rising energy and fuel costs, Cawdrey cited employee benefits as an additional reason for the increase. Starbucks offers benefit packages consisting of free coffee, medical leave and two vacation and paid personal days a year for employees working at least 20 hours a week.

“We continue to invest in the total pay package and benefits of our (employees),” she said.

Selina Reyes’ drink of choice is the caramel frappucino. Before the price increase, ordering her signature drink every day for a year would have cost Reyes $1,222.75. Now, she’ll pay $18.25 more a year to support her daily frappucino habit.

Reyes, junior in Communications, however, is prepared to fork over the extra cash.

“I just want my coffee no matter what,” she said. “I will not stop going to Starbucks.”